The time has come, once again, to recall the story of Hanukkah (long story short: the Jewish people were in peril, the Jewish people prevailed, the Jewish people headed directly to the kitchen to celebrate). As always, we celebrate the victory of the Jews with latkes fried in oil, or even doughnuts if you’re feeling really decadent.
But with so many fancy-schmancy recipes out there now, it’s hard to find a good one anymore. Luckily, I have a family recipe that will save you from latke doom. And yes, it’s highly customizable, so if you are feeling fancy-schmancy, you can totally spice things up.
The best part of this recipe is that a food processor does a majority of the work for you. Instead of wrecking your nails and knuckles on a box grater in the spirit of Hanukkah past, you can feed everything into your Cuisinart and let ‘er rip. You can even put the onion right in the food processor if you’re feeling really lazy.
Oh, and one more thing — if you have schmaltz or duck fat lying around, use it. Nothing compares to hot and greasy chicken fat. It’s what the ancestors would have wanted.
Original Latke Recipe
- 2 large Russet potatoes (about 1 pound), scrubbed and cut lengthwise into quarters (so they’ll fit in the food processor)
- 1/2 a medium onion, finely minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Pile the potatoes into the food processor with the coarse grating disc attached and process until the potatoes become thick shreds.
2. Once everything is shredded, pile it into a big colander and sprinkle with salt to extract the water. Let it drip out naturally, pressing every 10 minutes to extract as much as possible. Rinse the potato shreds well and dry on paper towels.
3. While the potatoes are draining, chop the onion finely.
4. Once the potatoes have finished dripping, mix them and the onion in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, baking powder, black pepper, and salt until fully combined.
5. Add the flour in bit by bit until there are no chalky patches.
6. Heat about 1/4 cup of neutral oil (canola or sunflower) or fat in a deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Use a soupspoon to portion out the latke batter, press down with a spatula, and fry, undisturbed, until edges look brown and crispy, about five minutes.
7. Carefully flip the latke and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.
8. Drain on paper towels (or newspapers if you’re old school). Serve with more salt and pepper with dollops of sour cream and applesauce.
Customization #1 — Sweet Potato Latkes
Follow the instructions exactly, but swap peeled sweet potatoes for the Russet potatoes. Note that they might not get as crispy as traditional latkes, but they’re also basically a breakfast food, so it’s a tradeoff.
Customization #2 — Veggie Latkes
Scale back the potatoes by about 1/2 cup. Replace with finely shredded kale, Brussels sprouts, or cabbage.
Customization #3 — Vampire Killer Latkes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tip of a head of garlic off to partially expose the cloves. Drizzle the garlic all over with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes until garlic is soft and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins and mash with a fork. Add to the latke mixture directly before cooking.
Not in the mood to clutter up your house with eight nights of gifts? Give the gift of support to others instead. Here’s a great place to start.
Jessica Suss is a native Chicagoan currently residing in Washington, D.C. She is currently getting her master’s degree in secondary English education at the University of Maryland. She enjoys petting other people’s dogs and is faithful to Lou Malnati’s alone. Jessica is also a supporter of MAZON and No Kid Hungry.